EU progress report says political determination needed for success of deal with Turkey

MERVE AYDOĞAN @mgulaydogan
ANKARA
Published 15.06.2016 23:51

The second report on the Turkey-European Union (EU) deal compiled by the European Commission and published on Wednesday underlined that despite progress, the deal remains fragile, as it continues to insist that Turkey fulfill the remaining benchmarks, including narrowing the counter-terrorism law which Turkey is firm about not amending.

Though the European Commission had previously said that the remaining 1 billion euros of funding for Syrian refugees would be sent at the latest by July 1, the report now indicates that it is to be sent by the end of summer, without clarifying a certain date.

European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans stated on Wednesday: "We need to fully implement all elements of the statement. This includes stepping up resettlement and increasing Greece's capacity to address the humanitarian situation and deal with asylum applications in line with EU law. The Turkish authorities also need to complete the implementation of the visa liberalization road map."

The report continues to praise the cooperation between the Greek and Turkish authorities, the Commission and EU member states, including EU agencies, as it notes that "the daily operation of return and resettlement processes are in full compliance with EU and international rules."

In regards to compiling 2 billion Euros in funding from all EU member states, the report underlines that all states have sent their contributions, and further says: "Projects that support refugees from Syria in Turkey have been launched, and the EU is on track to contract EUR 1 billion by the end of summer. This will ensure that those who need international protection receive the support they require." Underlining that the "political determination of all sides to take the necessary actions" is necessary for the deal to be successfully implemented, the Commission's report states: "Greece should increase its capacity to deal with the individual assessment of asylum applications… EU and its Member States should consolidate resettlement efforts from Turkey to the EU… European Parliament and the Council should swiftly finalize the decision-making process on the Commission proposal of March 21, 2016 to use for resettlement purposes the 54,000 places originally foreseen for relocation."

While the report urges Turkey to take necessary measures to fulfill the remaining visa liberalization benchmarks, EU Minister and Chief Negotiator of Turkey Ömer Çelik told media members on Tuesday that, "there is a blockage with the visa liberalization and readmission agreement… Turkey on its end has fulfilled majority of the benchmarks."

In this regard, the report does indicate that progress has been made by Turkey and further notes that, "During its technical mission on 2-3 June 2016, the Commission had encouraging discussions with the Turkish authorities on concrete solutions and practical steps, including the necessary legislative and procedural changes on the outstanding benchmarks." Additionally, regarding Turkey's EU membership the report states that "preparatory work continues at an accelerated pace to make progress on five other Chapters."

While the report says "the key areas of the judiciary and fundamental rights, and justice, freedom and security (Chapters 23 and 24), following the technical consultations in April and based on updated information received from Turkey in the course of May, the Commission is aiming to finalize the documents by the end of June," it adds that the decision on opening Chapter 33 regarding financial and budgetary provisions.

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